Welcome to the Surface Chemistry Lab in the Institute of Fundamental Sciences at Massey University. The lab is led by Dr. Catherine Whitby.

We work at the edges (surfaces and interfaces) that control the properties of materials like paints, sunscreens, lubricants and dairy foods. All these materials are colloids. They are made of drops, bubbles and particles dispersed in a liquid. The drops, bubbles and particles are nanometres to micrometres in size.

We investigate how the chemical properties of drop (bubble or particle) surfaces control how colloidal materials flow and behave. A focus of our work is on using nanomaterials to modify the drop and bubble surface chemistry. This strategy enables us to tune the structure, stability and flow of soft materials used in food, pharmaceutical and agricultural products.

We use microscopy and rheology tools to do our research. We use them to probe inside colloidal materials and investigate their physical and chemical properties. These tools are found in the excellent facilities at Massey University, including the Riddett Institute and the Manawatu Microscopy & Imaging Centre.

We have funding for a PhD position!

Bill Williams and Catherine have a MacDiarmid Institute (http://macdiarmid.ac.nz/) sponsored PhD position available. The project focuses on using the tools of soft matter science to understanding cell biomechanics. It would suit a student interested in using a combination of experimental techniques, including surface characterisation tools, microscopy and mechanical testing, to characterise the structure and function of the biopolymers found in cells. To apply, please contact her (C.P.Whitby@massey.ac.nz), with your curriculum vitae by 25th of November. Please also email her if you have questions about the position.

Highlights of 2016

Ben Munro completed his PhD confirmation.

We welcomed an intern and a technician:

  • Floriane Bahuon, a Masters student at ENSCBP joined us for 5 months to work on a project (co-supervised by Simon Hall) on droplet fusion in Pickering emulsions
  • Rajendaran Parthipan joined us for 1 year to investigate the patterns formed by Pickering emulsions as they are spread on surfaces.

Highlights of 2015

We welcomed 2 new students:

  • Ben Munro has started a PhD (co-supervised by Simon Hall) on emulsion microstructure and dynamics
  • Sam Booty is doing a MSc on using hydrogels to deliver analgesics to injured birds (co-supervised by Dave Harding and Preet Singh).

Our new rheometer was installed in the lab:

Together with Bill Williams, we secured funding from for a new rotational rheometer from the Massey University Capital Equipment Funds. Our collaboration takes advantage of Bill’s expertise and instrumentation for microrheology and Catherine’s expertise in rheology. Together these instruments will be a powerful tool for quantifying shear responses over the microscopic and macroscopic scale. This will benefit our research and teaching in areas from biophysics to food technology.

Western Pacific Colloids 2015:

Vince Craig and Catherine organised this conference to extend the traditional Australia-Japan Colloid meeting hosted by ACIS to include our colleagues in China, New Zealand, Taiwan and South East Asia.  65 delegates attended. There were lots of exciting presentations. Highlights included: